8th September 1773
Reference Numbert17730908-6
SentenceDeath > burning

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518. (M.) ELIZABETH HERRING was indicted for feloniously, traiterously, and of her malice aforethought, making an assault upon Robert Herring , her husband, and with a certain case knife giving him a mortal wound on the right side of the throat, of the length of one inch, and the depth of two inches, of which wound he instantly died , Aug. 5 . *

She likewise stood charged on the coroner's inquisition with the said murder.

John Boyle . I was along with the prisoner's husband last Thursday was a month; we had been on board a ship; I sat in company with him and the prisoner at Darling's, the sign of the Thistle and Crown, in King Street, Wapping ; the prisoner had a bit of meat in her hand, and he had some bread; you bougre, says she, give me bread with my meat; he told me to go and fetch her a halfpennyworth of bread; I got up to fetch it; you foutre said she, I will eat it without. I went and sat in a box behind them.

Q. How far from them?

Boyle. Close behind the box they were in, not half a yard from them; she had a knife in her hand picking a bone; in the space of two or three minutes, she went up to her husband; I thought she was going to give him a lick with her hand; instead of which she struck the knife into his throat; the blood immediately spouted out as if a butcher had killed a pig.

Q. Do you believe she did it with a design?

Boyle. Yes; or else she would not have killed him: then she dropt the knife and the bone she had in her hand under the table.

Q. What became of her then, did she remain in the house?

Boyle. I don't know.

Q. How soon after this did this man die?

Boyle. He was killed directly.

Q. Did you hear any quarrel between them before?

Boyle. Not a word! not a word! the first word that was spoke was what I mentioned.

Q. Did you hear her say any thing after it was done?

Boyle. Not a word.

Q. Have you told us all you know about it?

Boyle. Every word from my heart.

Hannah Darling . The prisoner and her husband were at my house on Thursday the fifth of August, they were there an hour or two before it happened; they were in my house about one; she had been there about twelve o'clock, and had eat a bit of salmon.

Court. Tell what you saw?

Darling. I did not hear even of any blows between them; they had a few words I believe;

I saw her stab him with the knife, as I was just come into the bar from carrying some beer; I did not know she had a knife in her hand till I saw her do the rash action; I saw her stab him with the knife thus (describing it to be a straight thrust) on the side of the neck.

Q. Did it appear as if she did it on purpose?

Darling. She had said she would spill his blood, and be hanged for him an hour or more before she did it: he did not live five minutes; I never heard him speak, sigh, or groan; there was a great deal of blood, but the person that supported him pinched his wound up, and stopt the bleeding.

Q. Did you see the husband do any thing to her?

Darling. What passed between them when I was out of the way; I do not know, but I saw nothing after she had committed the fact; she threw the knife down, clasped her hands together, and ran out of the house, and cried out, she had done it! she had done it!

Thomas Duncan . I am a bricklayer's labourer; I was backwards and forwards in the house; we were tileing the back part of the house; the prisoner and her husband sat in the next box to the bar; there is but a little passage between the bar and the box where they sat; his back was towards me, and she sat opposite to him; she had a bone of mutton; I never heard what they said; I heard them jawing together; she was jawing him; I turned back upon my heel, and saw the knife drop under the table, and the blood spurted over the table.

Q. Was there any body else in the box?

Duncan. There was only herself and her husband; I did not see her strike him; she came out of the box and said murder, murder, he is killed; she ran out of the door; he turned out of the box, and put his hand up to the wound on the side of his neck; he took hold of the wound and said you have killed me; I asked if any man would help me, I took hold of him, and stopt the blood as well as I could, and said he should not bleed till a surgeon came; I endeavoured to get him to the door; he staggered up, but could not go farther; he dropt upon his knees before I could bring him to the air; at last I got him into the yard, he was just alive then; when I saw him dying, I closed his eyes and his mouth, and tied a handkerchief round his neck, he was not alive a minute when the surgeon came: I believe from the time he was struck with the knife till he died was about twenty five minutes.

Q. Then you did not see the husband strike her, or do any thing to her?

Duncan. I did not.

Q. From the prisoner. Did you hear no words pass between him and me?

Duncan. I did not hear one word that passed between you.

Mr. William Pidley . I am a surgeon; I was sent for to the deceased; the man was near dead, but not quite; he had a wound in his throat, which appeared to be done by a knife: when we opened him we found it to be two inches deep or better; it had cut a large blood vessel.

Q. What do you apprehend to have been the occasion of his death?

Pidley. I do apprehend that the wound that he received then was the occasion of his death.

Mr. James Blythe . I am a surgeon, I saw the wound; a large blood vessel was intirely divided by the knife; I have no doubt but that was the occasion of his death.

Mrs. Darling. I pick'd up the knife, this is it (producing a common case knife.)

Prisoner's Defence.

My Lord, the morning before the accident happened, my husband was bad from his work; he came home; they say he is my husband, but he is not; I lived with him eleven years, but never was his wife; he came home and called me a great many bitches and whores, and used me very ill, and broke every little thing belonging to the apartment that I had; he ran a fork into my arm, I have shewn it to a great many people; he struck me and knocked me down, and used me very ill in every shape in the world; I went to Mrs. Darling's who has had a spite against me six months, I called for a pennyworth of beer; he called me every thing that was ill; I had no person to take my part; I sat a great way from him; when the meat was made ready he eat his belly full; then he called me to come to him; he said you b - h come and eat a bit; I was overjoyed that he should ask me to come to eat with him after we had quarrelled; I went to him with as much joy as I should go into the kingdom of heaven this moment; when I came to him he took up a pipe and threw it in my face; after that I went to another box, then he threw a pint of beer in my face; I had a pennyworth of beer in one hand and the knife in the other; I threw the knife at him, which proved fatal. I beg your Lordship will

ask Mrs. Darling whether she has not had a spite against me a good while.

Darling. Never in my life; I never had a word with her.

Q. From the Jury. Was there any quarrel between her and her husband prior to this stroke?

Darling. I heard none nor saw none; I was backwards and forwards in my business constantly; my husband was laid down to take a nap; they were upon the jangling order, but I did not think they would have come to blows, much less to this unhappy thing.

Q. From the jury. How long had they been in your house before this?

Darling. Two or three hours; she did threaten to cut his nose with a pint pot; I took it away.

Q. From the jury. Do you know of any beer being thrown over her?

Darling. I saw none indeed.

For the Prisoner.

Elizabeth Macdonald . I have known the prisoner from a child, she is a sober woman; he was a very violent bad husband; he would knock her down with quart pots; stick forks in her hand; and do many violent things.

Dorothy Hagen . I have seen them in company together; and he has taken up a quart pot and knocked her down; I lived opposite them; I have heard her call out at two or three o'clock in the morning, and he has turned her out of doors without shoes and stockings; I heard Mrs. Darling say, that they were drinking together; and that he came out of the box and threw a pennyworth of beer at her.

Q. When did Mrs. Darling say this was done?

Hagen. The same day he was killed.

Q. To Darling. Did you ever say that you saw him throw a pennyworth of beer at her?

Darling. I never did.

Q. To Boyle. Did you see the husband throw a pennyworth of beer in his wife's face?

Boyle. No, I did not.

Q. Was you there before they came in?

Boyle. No, they were in the house before me.

Alice Rounson . I have known the prisoner three years; the man was at our house, and the prisoner came after him; he behaved in a terrible manner among the workmen that my husband was obliged to discharge him; I have kept him out of the house, and have let her lie with the child, lest they should do any mischief.

Elizabeth Rounson . I have gone home and lain with her; he has got up and beat her with a poker without a handle, so that she has been obliged to get up in the night to call the watch at the time he has been beating her; I was afraid to speak, left he should get up and strike me.

Eleanor Jones . I know nothing at all about the prisoner; I knew her husband to be an honest hard working man; I know nothing about the wife.

Guilty . Death .

She pleaded pregnancy: a jury of matrons were immediately impannel'd, whose verdict was, that she was not with quick child.

She received sentence immediately. In the following words,

"This court awards, that

"you Elizabeth Herring are to be led from

"hence to the Gaol from whence you came;

"and on Monday next you are to be drawn on

"a hurdle to the place of execution; where

"you are to be burnt with fire until you are


The law was executed upon her agreeable to the sentence.

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